Why Churches Shouldn't Go Overboard At Christmas
I want to provide a bit of a contrarian thought when it comes to Christmas and Easter programming at your church. Most churches do their biggest services on Christmas Sunday and Easter Sunday, and that’s good and expected. But sometimes I wonder if we overdo it. Let me explain.
Do I think Christmas services should be special? Yes, but not too different from your typical service.
Do I think Christmas services should be better than an average Sunday? Yes, but don’t go overboard.
Many churches go all out for Christmas weekend. The logical thinking is this: “We have people that will only show up once or twice a year. So let's give them the best experience possible, and maybe they will come back.” Here’s the question I'd like you to ponder: What happens if they do come back? Their follow up visit might be a significant let down compared to the big production they saw on Christmas.
Here is what I believe about reaching people with the Gospel. How you reach them is how you keep them. When I was a Senior Pastor, our goal was not simply to reach people for Christ but to see them get baptized and grow in Christ. Most outreach programs at churches are designed to reach people in the most creative ways possible. And I’m all for that, but statistically, how you reach them is how you'll keep them.
Those who come to Christ at an elaborate Christmas Sunday or Christmas Eve service will hopefully come back the next week. But if they experienced a production that was “off the charts” or totally different than your typical services, what will they think when they come back the next week and it is a “regular” Sunday? If they heard a ten minute message on Christmas Eve and thought that was the norm, they may have a tough time adjusting if you normally preach for 45 minutes.
When I was the pastor of Northridge Church in Rochester, NY, we stuck with our typical formula for our Christmas services. We certainly had some special elements and surprises, but we didn’t go crazy.
So on Christmas Sunday, I still did a full-length message.
On Christmas Sunday, we still did our normal amount of congregational singing.
On Christmas Sunday, we still did announcements and even received our offering.
Though we added some special Christmas elements, we wanted to follow a somewhat “normal” Sunday morning format, because we discovered that our ability to keep new believers was typically based on the method by which we reached them.
Do you know what I found? It didn’t make Christmas or Easter Sunday any less special, but it did make us step up our game the other 50 Sundays a year.
I’m all for making a big deal of Christmas and Easter. But I’m even more for making a big deal the other 50 weeks. So do something special. Make it great. But keep it within a reasonable expectation compared to the other Sundays a year at your church.
One final thought: Don’t use this suggestion as a reason to be lazy at Christmas. Use it as a reminder that every week of the year is truly a life-and-death struggle – so it deserves our best. Eternity really is at stake.